End the extreme shortage of court reporters. Fight the unfairness and double standards. Overcome inequality and injustice. Whoa. The Sustainable Steno Goals are important, profession-changing objectives that will require cooperation among government entities, international law organizations, and leaders in the legal industry. It seems impossible that the average person can make an impact. Should you just give up?
No! Change starts with you. Seriously. Every human on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.
Have a look at just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact!
Level 1 – Things you can do from your couch
- Build your social media network to include lawyers, law firms, judges, clerks, paralegals, legal secretaries, school teachers, and school counselors, and other court reporters.
- Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post about stenography, share it so people in your network see it too.
- Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm consumers or the profession.
- Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on a message board or in a chat room, flag that person.
- Write articles and get them published in publications that are both within our industry and outside of our industry.
- Buy equipment from industry vendors that are investing in your sustainable future, such as Eclipse, who is the only CAT software vendor who has invested entirely in the future advancement of stenography alone @advantagesoftware.
- Stay informed. Follow your local industry news @stenonymous and stay in touch with the NCRA online or on social media at @ncra.org. Follow your local association news. Follow news about protecting your record @protectyourrecordproject.
- Tell us about your actions to achieve the sustainable steno goals by using the hashtag #sustainablestenogoals on social networks.
- Sign up for industry newsletters such as @stenonymous and @stenoimperium.
- Follow steno celebrities in our industry such as @whitneykumar who is starring in the new @JudyJustice and @markkislingbury who recently broke his Guinness World Record of 370 words per minute.
- Follow the Stenographer’s World Podcast with stenographer Al Betz.
- Follow steno social media darlings like MiasMom Stephanie Hicks, Stenoholics Chelsey Fafard and Mandy Sweet-Coulter, and Stanographer Stan Sakai
- Build a community. This means you are giving more to them than you want from them.
- Order a fun custom caricature of you as a court reporter to use in social media, but also support those who customize the steno image in their products.
- Practice steno anywhere and get a portable Steno board so you’re always on your game!
- Invest in those who are investing in you – Project Steno, Stenonymous, Protect Your Record Project, the
- Support legendary authors that moonlight as court reporters (just kidding), such as Vivien Spitz, Dominick Tursi, Jason Meadors, Kristine Johnson, Diana Kilpatrick – – or the brand new June 5, 2022 release of Dallas Ann H. Erwood’s 50 Shades of Steno My Life as a Court Reporter.
Level 2 – Things you can do in your profession
- Join the National Association of Court Reporters, if you’re not already a member, so that you can vote against allowing videographers to become voting members of the NCRA.
- Join your state and local court reporting associations. They need you!
- Join the associations in the largest 4 states, such as @CCRA and @DRA and @NYSCRA and @FSCRA and @TEXDRA. Their states have the largest impact on the industry.
- Join the associations in the 4 smallest state associations and/or states without licensure requirements, such as @MCRA and @NCCRA and @ACRA and @CCRA, because those states could be targeted first for a digital takeover.
- Volunteer your time in your court reporting associations. Don’t just join. They need you!
- Join your national court reporting associations, such as @ncra.org and @nvra.org and @uscra and @STAR.
- Join other struggling state court reporting associations, even if you are not certified, just to help support them. Maybe their courts just went digital or are about to… they need your funds to help stop it.
- Attend your state court reporters board meetings.
- Keep up to date with pending legislation that affects our profession, not only in your state but other states as well.
- Assist with writing letters to Senators in your state as well as other states who have active bills that affect our profession.
- Attend the California Court Reporters Board meetings, even if you don’t live in CA. At over 7,000 active court reporters, CA has the most number court reporters in the country, yet is the only state that doesn’t allow voicewriters to become certified. Find their next meeting here: @CA-CRB
- Register to take an NCRA Certification or NVRA Certification and get to the highest level in our profession!
- Donate an item to your state association convention to use in their fundraiser. Even if you can’t go, you can support their fundraiser by donating even a gift card to be used in their silent auction.
- Mentor those of all ages who are new to the profession or who are changing paths. It’s a thoughtful, inspiring and a powerful way to guide someone towards a better future.
- Visit your alma mater court reporting school and talk with the students, volunteer at events, help them organize a recruiting event, mentor their students, start a scholarship program at your alma mater with your name on it, help organize a walk/race team a local marathon.
- Donate to your state association scholarship program. If they don’t have one, spearhead the creation of one by proposing it at their next board meeting and volunteer to chair or co/chair the new committee!
- Stay informed. Read about freelancers in other industries and learn about their business practices. Talk to your colleagues about these issues.
- Host regular court reporter networking events such as dinner, happy hour, outings in your local area.
- Connect with lawyers and judges. Offer to host a table/booth at an event for judges, lawyers, and paralegals where you could educate them on the issues affecting our industry. You can approach your state association and offer to volunteer your time to find these events and staff the booth and raise the donations to cover it.
- Speak at events for paralegals, attorneys, judges, and court reporters and educate them about the issues our profession is facing.
- Sponsor a student to attend the state or national court reporting conventions.
- Spread the word. The more ideas are spread to combat the shortage, the more people act.
- Host a lunch at your local court reporting school. Many students are struggling to make it through school. Let them know we care!
- Share success stories, including stories that didn’t make the headlines or the JCR! Post them in Facebook groups such as Why I Love Court Reporting, or Encouraging Court Reporting Students.
- Keep up to date with the latest technologies and innovation. Sign up for Stenovate or CoverCrow to help our industry’s innovators gain more traction so they can continue developing needed solutions for our small niche.
- Buy through Amazon Smile and select a steno-related charity to donate your dollars to and help your steno community’s fundraising efforts. Encourage association and organization leaders to apply for the Amazon Smile program.
Level 3 – Things you can do in your Community
- Get to know your local congressman and state senators. Write them letters about supporting initiatives that help our profession and litigants. Go to their office and meet them. Call and find out their event schedule and show up at ribbon cutting ceremonies where they will be so you can meet them in person, if they won’t schedule an appointment with you.
- Participate in your local High School Career Days. Host a booth talking about the court reporting profession. Bring your steno machine for a live demo. Talk to students in classrooms on career days or bring a parent to work day.
- Write a press release for your local newspaper when you achieve a certification in court reporting, whether it be an NCRA cert, state cert, or realtime certification, or any other career accomplishment.
- Write an article about the shortage of court reporting and how it’s affecting litigation in your area and get it published in your local newspaper. They’re always looking for content.
- Shop local. Supporting our industry businesses keeps people employed and businesses open. For example, instead of buying a USB adapter from Amazon, buy it from your local steno repair shop such as @stenodoctor. Instead of buying supplies on Amazon, buy it from @Pengad.
- Have free business cards printed that promote stenography and have them on you at all times. When you run into the perfect prospective court reporter, you can hand them the card that points them to the NCRA A to Z Program and Project Steno and your local court reporting program.
- Wear a t-shirt with a bold steno message when you’re out in public running errands. The person standing behind you in the grocery store line may be a prospective court reporter that you could reach with a back-of-the-shirt message to them.
- Bring your own custom tote bag with a steno message when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable totes with a message about court reporting. The more the public is aware of stenography, the better.
- Get everyone involved. Gather a couple of court reporters in your area and do regular community outreach projects to reach prospective court reporters – get a booth at local events, school events, grocery stores, the swap meet. Check with your local city hall regularly for their schedule of events.
- Organize & initiate, through a local school or business, an A to Z Program in your community.
- Hold a fundraiser and donate to your chosen non-profit stenographic project.
Level 4 – Things you can do on the job
- Be on time, which means always early! Strive to be the first one there.
- Get a tumbler with a steno message to take to depositions. They can be a conversation starter about our profession.
- Order some custom pens with a steno message to hand out at depositions and other jobs. You can find them as low as $0.16/pen and buy them in bulk to hand out.
- Order a custom laptop skin with a message about the importance of hiring a certified professional court reporter. Get some ideas from the PYRP materials.
- Order business cards that highlight you’re a “gold standard” certified stenographer.
- Get your “Stenographer” lanyards from the PYRP and wear them on every job. They’re a great conversation starter.
- Order a Protect Your Record Project Advocacy Kit that has pens, fliers, cards, etc.
- Speak up! Ask your client and opposing counsel to engage in initiatives that will not harm litigants or the profession. Voice your support for using certified stenographers!
- Have the discussion with attorneys and tell them about how Superior Court judges and District Court judges across the country are rejecting transcripts that haven’t been prepared or certified by a stenographic court reporter.
- Be compassionate to everyone you encounter. You never know what they are going through.
- Commit to stopping negative gossip about peers and agencies. We all need to promote the profession, and that may mean keeping quiet about the things, people, and businesses we don’t like very much. Stay positive and professional.
Don’t forget to take care of your needs first!
- Eat a healthy diet and drink a lot of water.
- Get enough sleep.
- Do regular stretches of your shoulders, arms, neck, wrists, legs before you go on the record and on every break.
- Be more active. Go for walks during lunchtime or breaks.
- Make time for yourself and your friends.
- Be part of increasing awareness of, and support for, mental health ailments such as depression, substance abuse, Alzheimer’s.
- Reduce stress with a Court Reporter Coloring Book this summer.
- Also learn how to reduce stress with this great non-fiction book written specifically for court reporters.
One thought on “The Lazy Steno’s Guide to Saving the Steno Profession”
Great article. Many wonderful suggestions!
One note: Iowa does not allow voice writers to become certified either.
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